From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
Beauty Queens was my first Libba Bray experience and I quite enjoyed it, though I did find it a bit odd at times. The story had my interest from the start, but it didn't take long to really hook me in, page 33, in fact. The story flows well, and I appreciated not having to read a hundred pages of setup before things really got down to business. It did such a fantastic job of catching my attention, I ended up staying up and reading until two in the morning one night.
I loved getting to see from all the different points of view. Normally it's just one or two and occasionally three. I'm not actually sure just how many were in here, but I know it was way more than that, but it still worked fantastically. All the characters and points of view did kind of throw me for a loop at the beginning, but after a while I was able to settle in and really enjoy it. Bray does an absolutely amazing job of making all the POVs flow in a way that I was never bored and never confused.
Overall, I did absolutely love it, but I did find some things a bit...odd. When things started happening with Mary Lou, I was really starting to think she was a werewolf or a vampire or something. I was rather confused and left wondering if I missed something and there was really a supernatural element here. There were a few other just odd little moments that seemed a little too fantastic for the rest of the story, though I can't think of specifics now, of course.
A few other things I loved about Beauty Queens: the annotations and the girl power. The annotations were awesome and made me laugh a little bit. It was just an awesome little extra I definitely wasn't expecting. And girl power. Seriously, this book had me wanting to scream "Girl Power!!! Yay!" at the top of my lungs. That wasn't really an option at midnight, but it still created quite the girl power fire inside of me. Is it bad if you're proud of characters from a book?
Side note: I was a little sad Miss Washington didn't make it. That is all.
Final Thoughts: Although this book had some odd moments, it was absolutely fantastic overall. I'm pretty sure there's something in here for everyone (though I really can't get into that without spoiling). Don't look at the cover and name and think you know what you're getting into, because I can almost guarantee you'll be surprised. If you're into girl power (or even if you're not but you aren't against is) I beg of you, read this book!
I wanted to read this book from the first time I saw it on the shelf, but I just never got around to purchasing it. As a big fan of LOST and Drop Dead Gorgeous the blurb appealed to me greatly. However, one thing that did stop me from buying it immediately was the cover. I honestly felt concerned at what the sales assistant would think of me. I ended up getting it on sale from a store with self serve checkouts.
The Good - The original premise. It was, after all, what made me want to read the book in the first place. I thought this was seriously going to be a ripper of a story - sort of a female Lord of the Flies. In terms of technique, this was one of the best written books I have read in a while, which was it's saving grace because it actually made the story slightly more bearable and allowed me to get to the last page!
The Bad - Beauty Queens wasn't funny, which is a problem for a novel which is constantly filed under 'Humour'. Every character tended to meld into one, all of them were stupid and all of them were stock characters, complete with token minorities (a lesbian, an Indian, a Jew etc). I felt no connection or sympathy for any of the characters, even the supposed 'intelligent' one suffered from an acute superiority complex. Also, the satire was just overdone. Practically every sentence had to have some 'witty' remark or contrived reference and the footnotes scattered throughout were FRUSTRATING. The whole book just read as a bad joke and when I finally reached the last page, a relieving moment which I feared would never eventuate, I felt stupider for having read the book and honestly wished I could get my money back.
If the humour was extracted, and a more thrilling, all-girl, 'survival of the fittest' narrative had evolved, this book could have been absolutely amazing! Still, I would recommend the book others. As I said, the level of the writing isn't lacking, but the content just isn't my cup of tea. There is only so much condescending satire I can take.
Why is this book so great? Well, how about I give you a little (or long) list.
It's a dystopia.
Beauty Queens stranded on an island...who doesn't want to see that? Also, how did the Corporation not think of that?
The mocking of pretty much every aspect of pop culture, most especially of reality television.
The Corporation. You may wonder why I would love an evil corporation that's trying to take over the world and doing all sorts of awful things. That's because the commercials remind me of Veridian Dynamics, so I spent the whole book imagining that it was The Corporation. Oh references, intended or not.
Girl power. For an example, check out Tiara's speech on page 335.
Love for the LGBT community.
Everyone didn't pair off in the end. I get so sick of that, sweet as it is. In real life, everyone doesn't find their true love at 16.
Every page is abso-friggin'-lutely hysterical. I dare you to read this book and not laugh out loud at least once.
So yeah, I definitely need to read the rest of Libba Bray's stuff and to procure a copy of this book for my very own, since I read one from the library. Also, I just realized that Libba Bray's name uses only letters from the word library. Coinkydink? I wonder...
Oh, and just for funsies, here is my one criticism of the book: on page 361, Adina says something (singsongs it, actually). Unfortunately, she's not actually in that scene yet. Wah wah. Editor fail. She enters on page 363.
That brings us to the song for today. Although there are a lot of things that would be hilarious and appropriate for today's book, I also cannot miss adding a reference to Miss Congeniality. I also love imagining Adina or Taylor reacting to some guy saying this to them. haha.